The last event yesterday was the first mobile game innovation hunt. Any one can submit a mobile game, but they are then whittled down till only the top 15 remain. This session took those 15 submissions and gave each developer three minutes to present their game to the audience. A panel of judges made up of an Nvidia representative, IGN's mobile games editor, and some representatives of cell phone carriers scored the games and then the audience got to vote for their pick.
The judges tied between two games, Sil: The Silhouette Game and Tornado Madness. Tornado Madness is a game by Digital Chocolate in which you control a tornado using one button. Depending on if you press a button decides if the tornado moves in clockwise or counterclockwise fashion. This simple mechanic makes the game simple and fun to play. There's also some depth too in the different gameplay modes. One has you causing as much destruction as possible to the 2d isometric city. Another has you setting goals for which buildings you'd like to suck up with your tornado and adding them onto your own city. The unique game mechanics along with the ability to cause carnage made it a hit with the audience and judges.
Sil: The Silhouette Game not only tied Tornado Madness in the judges scores, but also took the audience choice award. The game is simple, you've given a 3d object and you can see a silhouette of the object in the background, then you must orient the object by rotating it to match the silhouette in the background. You get points for how quickly you can accomplish this and get a combo score for doing this correctly in short periods of time. Sil's ability to be scaled to different hardware platforms and its colorful 3d cartoonish style, accessible game mechanics and broad appeal drew lots of applause and praise.
While it was neat to see some different ideas, I felt like somewhere around a third of the entries weren't really innovative, that they were just heavy refinements to existing game concepts. I'd like to have seen more games use the assets of the mobile platform like location sensing and the camera in unique ways.
Personally, my pick was a game called Barcode Wars that is a collectable card game of sorts where you take pictures of barcodes using your phone's camera and then the game generates unique cards based on the barcode. You can then use these cards to fight in Pokémon type battles. Apparently, companies can also make deals to get their barcode to generate certain types of 'Power Cards' that act as unique characters that can be used as promotional tie-ins. I like the idea of collecting things and this introduces an active mechanic into the game that lets the user interface with the real world. That's real cool.
Overall, it seemed like an interesting display of talent and kinda gave everyone a look at some of the interesting things you can do with the mobile platform. Maybe someone in the audience will be inspired by the examples to do something new and different, maybe they'll even get to enter it in next year's mobile games innovation hunt. Do any of you guys have a neat idea of how to take advantage of the mobile platform? What unique things do you think mobile developers should be doing with the camera, microphone, and GPS in your phone?
The world's seen more than enough stuff like Pokemon.
I always liked the idea of those 'barcode battler' games. Never played any of them, though.
Agreed. Any kind of barcode battler game would be great. It would probably be the first game I'd ever actually buy for my phone... depending on whether or not I have to pay while playing or if it's a one-time fee, of course.
I'd also hope that you can delete the pictures after it stores the new card so that you don't run out of space on your phone from hundreds of barcode pictures.